The African Pokemon Safari

When Pokemon Go launched a little more than a year ago, players quickly discovered that some Pokemon were regional exclusives–that in order to catch ’em all, you’d have to travel the world.

And by the world, Pokemon Go meant North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia.

But fear not, global majorities! Gen II made this distribution more equal.

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Pokemon Go: A Retrospective

One year and two days ago, Pokemon Go reinvented the mobile gaming landscape and reignited a craze that has gone on for over two decades. But in the wake of early crashes and frenzied, frustrated players, how far has the game come, and how much further must it go not only to satisfy its fans but also to survive?

In this retrospective, we will confront the major problems still blighting players and lay forth some suggestions for how Nintendo and Niantic can overcame these ails. In particular, we will focus on three themes: player engagement through playing together, the updated Gym system and the game’s multiple currencies, and the inequality perpetuated by the game mechanics themselves.

So join me on this adventure and get ready to Go.

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Pokemon Wednesday: This is the Best Clickbait-Inspired Title I Could Think of, and Here’s Why

I have a confession to make: I didn’t study for my algebraic topology midterm because I couldn’t stop playing Pokemon.

The truth is, for the last eighteen years (and I’m turning 27, so that’s two-thirds of my life), Pokemon has been one of the few constants from year to year: Pokemon was there when I played with my friends in Hebrew school; Pokemon was there when my parents my separated and I went back and forth between my parents houses while my mom was at school; and Pokemon was there when I began college myself and needed something, or anything, to pass the time when I wasn’t studying.

And Pokemon was also there when I should’ve been studying last week. In fact, Pokemon–in its many iterations–has been keeping me from homework for a long time.

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Monsters in My Pocket

Sometimes we’ve got a weight on our shoulders, keeping us down and preventing us from moving forward, and sometimes it’s more of a weight in our pockets–we feel it, and it’s not going anywhere, but we’ve got to carry it forward until we’re able to let it go.

Letting go isn’t always an option in our control. Right now the monstrous weight in my pocket is the wait to marry the man I love, just to see him again: we’re a binational couple going through the immigration process, and even though this burden grows heavier every day, we can do nothing to set it down any sooner–it’s in the hands of someone else.

So we do what we can to pass the time. This is how I’ve carried these pocket monsters.

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Stop. Pause. Press Restart.

Two weeks ago I posted about my summer goals, but since then I’ve managed to make as little progress as could possibly be defined (a rather flowery way of saying I’ve done nothing). Part of me wants to kick back and say I don’t care, because hasn’t it been a stressful year and don’t I deserve a break? But the better part of me feels bored and knows, deep down, I do want to accomplish the things I’ve set out to do.

It’s just getting there that isn’t always easy.

So it’s time I stop for a second, hit the pause button, and take a moment to restart.

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Re: the Season of Giving

Gift Giving

My fiance holds the gift I gave him on the eighth night of Chanukah. Dec. 23, 2014.

With the Season of Giving going behind us, it seems fitting to take a moment to say thank you–both to the people who gave me gifts personally, but also to all the people whose generosity helped brighten the lives of others. It’s always seemed fitting to me that the gift-giving holidays are all clustered during winter, when we (in the northern hemisphere) most need the cheerfulness to keep us warm until the spring.

As any gift-giver may know, the easiest gifts to send are those that give themselves–like cash and gift cards. There’s something special about tearing off the wrapping paper and seeing precisely what you want to get, but for as long as I can remember there has been a different kind of excitement when I open a gift card–now I’m holding potential, opportunity, and I get to go on an adventure to decide precisely what I want.

This post is about one such adventure.

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Pokemon Wednesday: Man vs Nature

Have you ever started writing with a point in mind, and noticed by the time you finished writing you’d never really gotten there? Earlier this week I wrote a post about mourning monsters–reflecting on the inspiration that childhood pastimes like Pokemon and Digimon gave me (and continue to give me)–but that hadn’t been my intent.

Not my original intent anyways.

Instead I wanted to write something wild. A story of man against nature.

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Mourning Monsters

I lack the gravitas to make light of a serious situation. More so I lack the gusto to make a light situation serious. Yet of late, lightness has ruled my days: Against my own wishes, I have slept in later than desired all week, and once I’m awake, old obsessions mesmerize my mind and threaten to steal every ounce of sanity.

Perhaps it’s my summer sloth slowing me down, or perhaps there’s more at stake.

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Survival Instincts

Today officially began my semester. I woke up before the sun (but not as early as yesterday) and trudged out to my first course. I left earlier than I actually had to and therefore was almost an hour early.

I took my seat casually, somewhat thankful I wasn’t the first one there. I withdrew my iPad to fiddle with for a bit, eager to distract myself, yet still eager for classes to begin.

Had I known what the day would bring, I’d have felt differently.

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Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau Walk Into a Bar

And then they had drinks and celebrated the fact that finals were over. (Seriously, I tried coming up with a better punchline, but I couldn’t make it funny, so I thought I’d opt for absurd and asinine instead.)

But honestly, finals are over, and believe it or not, I almost didn’t know what to do when I got out of class. I lingered, albeit unintentionally at first, with some classmates and we discussed our exam, but then I was on my own–and I really had no idea what to do with myself.

So I did what anyone else would do: I did nothing.

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